Staying Lahaina Strong | Crooked Media
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August 13, 2023
What A Day
Staying Lahaina Strong

In This Episode

  • More than 90 people have been killed in Maui since wildfires erupted last week, making it the deadliest wildfire in the U.S. in over a century. The Hawai’i Tourism Authority is urging travelers to not visit the island at this time as organizers work to provide shelter to thousands of displaced residents.
  • Former president Donald Trump could face his fourth criminal indictment as soon as this week. Fulton County Georgia prosecutor Fani Willis appears close to charging Trump with more crimes regarding 2020 election interference in the state.
  • And in headlines: the governor of Illinois signed a law allowing people to sue gunmakers over ads that target children, police raided a local newspaper in Kansas, and the Biden administration announced a $1.3 billion investment to suck carbon dioxide out of the air.


Show Notes:



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Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Monday, August 14th. I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 


Erin Ryan: And I’m Erin Ryan. And this is What A Day where we are here to tell Elon Musk on behalf of Mark Zuckerberg that, Elon, you’re just going to have to get your ass kicked another time. 


Tre’vell Anderson: [laugh] I’m kind of sad that the cage match isn’t working out. I wanted to see the barbarians be barbaric. 


Erin Ryan: Elon Musk did achieve the impossible. He made me root for Mark Zuckerberg. [laughter] [music break]


Tre’vell Anderson: On today’s show, the governor of Illinois signed a law allowing people to sue gun manufacturers and distributors over ads that target children and militants. Plus, could giant carbon sucking vacuums be a solution to climate change? Stay tuned for that. But first, an update on Maui. With the death toll now over 90 people and still expected to grow. The wildfire that started this all is now the deadliest in the U.S. in more than a century and has caused an estimated $6 billion dollars in damage islandwide. According to Governor Josh Green, at least 2200 buildings have been damaged or destroyed in West Maui, mostly all residential buildings and FEMA estimates as many as 4500 people are in need of shelter. As a result, the Hawaii Tourism Authority issued a statement Saturday urging what many have already said that tourists should not visit the island at this time. They said, quote, “In the weeks ahead, the collective resources and attention of the federal, state and county government, the West Maui community and the travel industry must be focused on the recovery of residents who were forced to evacuate their homes and businesses. 


Erin Ryan: I appreciate the Hawaii Tourism Authority issuing that statement, but I also feel like there are probably bigger muscles that should and can be flexed here, like maybe the governor should be like, don’t come. I would love for the airlines to say, like, don’t come. I would love for the Hawaii Tourism Authority to not be standing alone in telling tourists to not come because now is not the time. We already know that the cause is still under investigation and that the wildfire was fueled by a really dry summer and some strong winds from a passing hurricane. But there are now reports about a faulty warning system? 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, so there are these emergency sirens that go off to sound the literal alarm of evacuation for impending disasters. Apparently, Hawaii’s emergency management records do not indicate that the warning sirens were actually sounded, which means that residents might not have been properly notified. Reports say warning text message alerts went to some people’s phones, but widespread power and cellular outages might have limited their reach. So now Hawaii’s attorney general Anne Lopez has said her office is conducting a comprehensive review of the decision making and other policies surrounding the wildfires. In the meantime, though, residents have begun returning to Lahaina to find complete desolation. Take a listen to resident Mindi Cherry, who, along with her husband and their three children and dogs, returned to the city on Saturday. Here she is speaking with Hawaii News Now: 


[clip of Mindi Cherry] Like I’d already heard, my house was gone, which is a lot to deal with. But then just to see the school in just that shape, like the brick walls are still there, but all of the windows are blown out. All of the classrooms had fire going through them. There’s just nothing left. 


Erin Ryan: It is just so horrible to hear stories like this of people not just losing their homes and their possessions and sometimes family members, but their communities. And that seems to be what’s happening on Maui. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. You know, one of the beautiful things from this really tragic situation is how the community has jumped into action to support each other, especially as there are some reports of slow governmental support. Here’s Wela Espiritu speaking to The Washington Post. 


[clip of Wela Espiritu] We came together. We’re [?]. We’re feeding people, providing people with toiletries, food, water, whatever we can do. We have a medical station right here that we they’re providing for us as well on their own. And we’re just trying to deal what we can. You know what I mean? It’s just how strong us people are from um Lahaina. That’s how we come. We stay together. We can survive together. We cannot wait for government. We cannot wait for county, state, whatevers. That’s why we here right now, to support our community. Do what we have to do for our community. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Again, if you have the ability to support, we’ll put some links in our show notes that you can check out, including a list of families you can donate to directly as they rebuild their livelihoods. While there has been an outpouring of supply and monetary donations, different families have specific needs. So this is a way to make sure your support is targeted. Of course, no amount is too small. 


Erin Ryan: Yeah. Please look into helping any way that you can. And now to former President Trump’s multiplying legal woes. Fulton County Georgia, prosecutor Fani Willis is sending some pretty strong signals that a grand jury is close to charging former President Donald Trump and according to CNN, more than a dozen of his cronies with more crimes regarding 2020 election interference in the state. And by pretty strong signals from D.A. Willis, I mean, legally binding subpoenas. At least two witnesses learned on Saturday that they’re to testify to the grand jury on Tuesday. CNN and other outlets are reporting that this is yet another sign that an indictment is imminent. We could see the former president facing his fourth criminal indictment as soon as this week. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Four is kind of absurd. I mean, I thought three was plenty. The fact that there’s a fourth one coming down the road is kind of wild. Trump has done so many things that are legally untoward that I personally have a hard time keeping track of everything. Could you remind me again what happened when the devil went down to Georgia? 


Erin Ryan: Sure. So according to allegations and news reports and uh recorded phone conversations, Trump and his legal team led an effort in Georgia to overturn the state’s election results in 2020, including but not limited to attempting to bully state officials, organizing a slate of fake electors and trying to breach the voting system in Coffee County. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Okay, so I don’t remember much about that third thing you just mentioned, breaching voting systems? They was trying to break into the voting systems? What’s going on?


Erin Ryan: Yeah, I didn’t remember much about that either. But in our defense, a lot was happening around the time. But about a year ago, investigators indicated that they were zeroing in on the attempted breach of voting systems in one particular Georgia county in the days leading up to the January 6th, 2021 coup attempt at the U.S. Capitol. What prosecutors say they found is that the attempt to break into the voting machines wasn’t just something a bunch of Trump supporters did on their own. They were actually directed to do so by members of Trump’s inner circle. And according to CNN, prosecutors say they’ve got receipts in the form of texts and emails from people in the highest echelons of Trump world to back them up. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Now, this is why you voice memo when you’re going to talk shit or do treason because, you know, they disappear. They don’t stay. You know, there’s no record. What’s going on with these people? They’re so not smart. But why were they trying to break into the Coffee County voting machines in the first place? Isn’t that an extremely rural, but also extremely Republican, pro-Trump, part of Georgia? What difference would it have made to the Georgia totals to change all of the votes there? 


Erin Ryan: They weren’t trying to change votes. They were trying to get access to the software. According to CNN’s reporting, the attempted breach of voting machines was, quote, “a desperate hunt for any evidence of widespread fraud they could use to delay certification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory.” 


Tre’vell Anderson: So they were so desperate for this evidence that they broke the law themselves and engaged in potential voter fraud of some sort. Okay. Interesting. Okay. Just want to make sure I was putting that all together right. Now what I find especially interesting about these potential Georgia charges is that they’re state level crimes. That means that if Trump is ever elected president again, God, hope not. He couldn’t pardon himself for those crimes if he’s even convicted of them, which is, you know, kind of weird that the founding fathers weren’t smart enough to make sure that wasn’t possible. But nevertheless, I digress anyway. What is new with Trump’s three original indictments, any development there? 


Erin Ryan: So on Friday, as expected, D.C. Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is presiding over the trial alleging that Trump tried to overturn the 2020 election, among other things, issued an order barring Trump and his team from sharing sensitive evidence. This move is meant to keep Trump et al from intimidating witnesses and tainting potential jury members. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Okay. But you know we know he don’t like following rules. So what happens if he decides not to comply with this? 


Erin Ryan: Okay, well, this isn’t like a card that you draw in Monopoly that you don’t like. This isn’t like a social more like rules at the G7. If you ignore a court order, you can get fined. You can get sent to jail. If the judge is feeling extra spicy. You can get both. We’ll see. But whatever happens, we here at WAD will be keeping up with all of the twists and turns of Donald Trump’s find out summer. That’s the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break]


Tre’vell Anderson: Now let’s wrap up with some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Tre’vell Anderson: A three year old child died while traveling on a bus of migrants heading from Brownsville, Texas, to Chicago, Illinois. The child was exhibiting symptoms of a serious illness aboard the bus and was a part of Governor Greg Abbott’s sickening program, Operation Lone Star, which has been bussing migrants to Democratic led cities since last year. Paramedics were called and the child died later at a hospital in Illinois. Since the busing program began last year, the Texas government has sent more than 30,000 people to cities outside the state. Democratic Representative Joaquin Castro of Texas’ 20th District posted a statement on his website on Friday in response to the child’s death, saying, quote, “For months, Operation Lonestar has trafficked asylum seekers across the country in squalid conditions. Governor Abbott’s barbaric practices are killing people.” Abbott has recently added other dehumanizing tactics to deter migrants, including large buoys blocking those swimming across the Rio Grande’s border between Mexico to the U.S.. Earlier this month, two dead bodies were found in Rio Grande, one of which was found along the floating barrier of buoys. 


Erin Ryan: I realize this is not a controversial statement, but uh Greg Abbott, real piece of shit. The people of Texas deserve better and the people of the world deserve better. In a victory for gun control advocates in Illinois. Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a law on Saturday that allows people to sue gun manufacturers and distributors over ads that are targeted toward children, militants and other people who might go on to use their weapons illegally. When making his case for why such a law was necessary. The state’s attorney general cited an ad for the JR-15, a smaller version of the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. The manufacturer says that the gun is deliberately made smaller with more safety features so that kids can learn how to use them safely from adults. And ads for the gun featured the slogan, quote, “Get ’em one like yours.” Which also sounds like it could be a slogan for circumcision. [laughter] It’s just also a weird thing that this is a controversial decision. The new law took effect immediately upon being signed, making Illinois the eighth state to roll back legal protections for gun makers. And it all comes amid a larger nationwide effort to hold firearm manufacturers and distributors accountable for how their marketing practices contribute to the country’s gun violence epidemic. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been over 400 mass shootings in 2023 alone. Governor Pritzker said in a statement, quote, “We hold opioid manufacturers accountable, vaping companies accountable, predatory lenders accountable, gun manufacturers shouldn’t get to hide from the law, and now they won’t be able to.” 


Tre’vell Anderson: Police on Friday raided a local newspaper in Kansas and the home of its publisher, seizing the paper’s phones, computers and file server, as well as the cell phones of reporters and editors. The search happened in the small town of Marion, just north of Wichita, when police searched the offices of the Marion County record and the home of the paper’s publisher and co-owner, Eric Meyer. Here’s what we know so far. The raid appeared to be prompted by a story the newspaper published last week about a local restauranteur, Kari Newell, who at a city council meeting accused the paper of illegally obtaining information about a drunken driving citation of hers in 2008 and other driving violations. The paper said they received that information through a tip and verified it through online public records, but ultimately decided not to publish it. But the paper did publish a story on the City Council meeting in which the restauranteur herself confirmed the drunken driving conviction. According to the New York Times, a search warrant was issued by a local judge about an hour before Friday’s raid and listed Newell, the restaurant owner, in possible violations of identity theft laws. The raid has led to criticism and concerns from First Amendment and press freedom advocates alike. And on Sunday, more than 30 news organizations and press freedom groups signed a letter condemning the raid. Super not good. 


Erin Ryan: Uh. You know what I got to say? I see a future for Kari Newell in one, President Donald Trump’s legal team, which I’m sure will have some openings shortly as there are often openings in that legal team. The Biden administration announced on Friday a big move in the U.S. carbon removal industry, a climate change solution that experts emphasize is key to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. Department of Energy said that it will be investing $1.3 billion dollars to fund two new demonstration projects in Texas and Louisiana. Once the projects are up and running, they’re expected to remove more than 2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere per year. That’s like if we eliminated about 500,000 cars off the road. So how does this even work? Well, direct air capture, as the process is called is basically like deploying huge vacuum cleaners, which use chemicals to suck carbon dioxide out of the air and push it underground or use it in other industrial materials like cement. The goal with this process is to speed up the kind of carbon intake that trees and oceans are already doing for us, but not quickly enough for the rate that humans are emitting CO2. I think that one of the first models of this should go to one Miss Taylor Swift. In my carbon offsetting era. 


Erin Ryan: Yes. She could use one of those based on the reportage. For sure. Absolutely. And those are the headlines. 




Tre’vell Anderson: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, support local journalism, and tell your friends to listen. 


Erin Ryan: And if you’re into reading and not just about huge vacuums removing pollutants out of the air like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Erin Ryan. 


Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 


[spoken together] And tourists stay home. 


Erin Ryan: Seriously, there’s other places. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Listen, this is the staycation era. You just, you know, get some candles, do a bubble bath in your own tub. It’ll be fine. [music break] What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our show’s producer is Itxy Quintanilla. Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf are our associate producers. Our intern is Ryan Cochran, and our senior producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.